Time flies when you’re not gaming much

I haven’t been posting much at all for the past month. It’s not some sort of blog ennui, it’s just that I haven’t been gaming nearly as much as I usually do. It started with the decline in my WoW time. While I found the leveling far better than I anticipated, the rest of the expansion has been decidedly not for me.

The next drop in my game time came from Diablo 3. I was happily chipping away at the season journey, but the fuss over the announcement of Diablo: Immortal sort-of soured me on the franchise for the moment. I tried picking Torchilight 2 back up to get my action RPG fix, and I enjoyed it for a few nights, but it didn’t last. I am too excited about the upcoming Torchlight MMO to get invested in an older game.

As a distraction I booted up Subnautica, which always makes me happy in the way only a game full of weird sea creatures can. I started a new game which was probably a mistake, since I got bored of re-treading the same content and wandered off after only a few nights.

Since then my nights have been mostly filled with knitting and watching the Great British Baking Show, which makes me feel too much like an old person for comfort. The only game I am still playing regularly is Dragalia Lost. After years of playing various games on my phone, they still don’t feel like “real games” to me. Mobile games squeeze in around other things in my life, a few minutes here or there, on the couch or riding in the car. They don’t have the same weight of something that requires me to go up to my office and boot up my PC. I have this weird gamer guilt, that I should be playing something “real”, but mobile has fit my life perfectly recently. With the holidays coming my free time is getting even more fragmented, and 5 or 10 minutes of distraction is about all I can manage. This realization makes me even more excited for the new Diablo game. All the fun of Diablo without being chained to my PC. Count me in.

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Blizzcon Postmortem

Well Blizzcon this year was definitely a thing. I’m going to ignore all the pieces that seem perfectly cool but aren’t for me, like Overwatch and HotS, and focus on the big things that I feel strongly about. And boy do I feel strongly. It’s a testament to Blizzard that even after all the time and frustration with some of their franchises, I still care enough about them to wish they were better.

I’ll start with Warcraft. There were three prongs for this franchise, two of which are banking solidly on nostalgia. The Warcraft 3 remaster seems pretty cool. I never actually played any of the Warcraft games before WoW, so I could see myself trying this out just to see some of those pivotal lore moments. It’s not anything I was hoping for, but I might still buy it out of curiosity.

The second piece of Warcraft news wasn’t very new but still makes me happy. WoW Classic development is moving along, by all accounts the demo was as painful and wonderful as I had hoped it would be. The timeline for release seems reasonable, and I’m sure will be perfectly calculated to keep people subscribed to WoW during a content lull in the modern game. Most importantly, it will be on that same subscription. Your $15 a month will buy access to both versions. This is a pleasant surprise. For me I think Classic might become my primary MMO for a while, but it will be nice to be able to duck into BfA also if the mood strikes me. On the flip side, I appreciate that this arrangement will let people dabble in Classic if they start getting bored of modern WoW. It will keep the overall subscription numbers up, and will keep the Classic servers more populated that they would be if they required an additional fee.

I’m more and more excited about WoW Classic all the time because I’m realizing that the current incarnation of WoW is just not for me at all. Nothing about the announcements for the new content in the works for BfA was that appealing. I still haven’t seen the full Uldir raid, so it is hard to get excited about a new one. I dislike the faction conflict and the set-up for Sylvanas’ eventual downfall, so the cinematic just made me sad. BfA is a game for an audience that doesn’t include me. I think the existence of WoW Classic is the key that keeps me from being unreasonably sad or angry about that fact.

Speaking of unreasonable anger, it’s time to talk about Diablo. Diablo fans have been running on the fumes of hope for years now. This year the franchise seemed to be getting a place of honor at Blizzcon, instead of being relegated to the kiddie table or ignored completely. You can understand that we were pretty excited. Obviously there was going to be some kind of big announcement. Unfortunately, we did not get any of the things we were expecting.

Diablo Immortal is a game I want to play. It looks fun, and it fills in a gap in Diablo lore. Cool! It is also deeply disappointing as a major Diablo announcement out of Blizzcon. Why? Because it is a mobile game. By definition it will be less complex, less hardcore than a pc or console offering. Because it looks backwards into Diablo’s history instead of forward with new story. And because it came without the merest sliver of a hint of motion on the core game, the thing the fans have been invested in for years even in the face of Blizzard’s occasional neglect.

I completely understand the anger and frustration of the assholes who stood up during Q&As and were inexcusably rude to the devs. I’m unhappy with this situation too. But lashing out is not useful to anybody. I’m a weird Diablo fan, because I want more of the full deep experience on the PC, but I am also super excited to try a more casual mobile offering. I would have been legitimately hyped about Diablo Immortal if it had also come with a promise of more “traditional” Diablo. Instead, this announcement seemed to say “you get Diablo Immortal instead of more actual Diablo”, and that felt terrible. I get that they aren’t far enough along with anything to say much, but a simple “we’re working on this” would have gone a long way. As things stand I am 100% sure I will at least check out this new mobile offering, but I’m desperately hoping for some pc Diablo news sooner than later. At least I still have the Torchlight MMO to look forward to.

So that was my Blizzcon. It was filled with lots of things that aren’t for me, and the realization that even the franchises I love from Blizz seem determined to move away from me too.

Gracie update

I’ll be writing my monthly gaming goals post in a day or so, but I wanted to give a more general update since it has been a bit since my last post. Real life has been interfering with my gaming time quite a bit for the past few weeks. On top of that, my interest in games has dropped sharply, other than for mobile games. The combination means I don’t have a ton to talk about here.

I wish I could pin down why WoW went south so fast for me this expansion. I was skeptical going into BfA because I didn’t love the core theme, but the Horde-side leveling content really won me over. I had a blast through leveling, and was having fun doing dungeons with friends. I’m not sure what killed the fun fastest – the stress of healing M+, the boring re-hash of world quests, or the failure of islands and warfronts to remotely live up to the hype we were sold. I still have a week or two left on my subscription but nothing is motivating me to even log in. The most WoW I’ve played in weeks was to finally run Dragon Soul for the last time on my rogue to get her legendary daggers. Yes, old content from Cata is more appealing that the current expansion endgame right now.

Coupled with the disappointment of WoW is the wet blanket that Blizz has thrown over my hype for the Diablo franchise. With the coveted post-opening-ceremonies timeslot at Blizzcon, lots of people were hopeful for a Diablo 4 announcement this year. Sadly Blizz has already warned us to tone done our expectations. I’m still hopeful that we’re getting some kind of new content for Diablo, even if it is just another character pack for D3 like the necromancer. I’m perfectly happy to keep throwing money at the game to keep development chugging forward if they at least keep giving me something new to be interested in once in a while.

Meanwhile I’ve been mostly poking at Dragalia Lost, which I can do while chilling out on the sofa and watching TV. It’s a nice change from being isolated up in my office all the time. I’ve also been reading for fun instead of chewing through my reading challenge list. I re-read all of the October Daye books by Seanan McGuire to prepare for book 12’s release (spoiler: I liked it). Now I’m re-reading The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson since the sequel to that comes out today. The Traitor Baru Cormorant was the only book I’ve read in the last 10 years or so that I was so engrossed by that I immediately started re-reading it the minute I finished it for the first time. I’m hoping the sequel lives up to it.

Another D3 season

Blaugust took a bit more out of me than I had realized, and I’ve been pretty scarce around here this month. Whoops. I have been busy gaming, mostly focusing on stress reduction and occasionally doing random dumb things with my friends. That includes old raids for transmog and mounts/pets, running LFR and snarking about how terrible it is, and my main focus in the past week – killing demons in D3.

Season 15 is about a week old, and I’m much more engaged than I expected to be. It is hard for me to tell whether I’m going to bounce or not in any given season lately. Sometimes I just do the minimum to get the cosmetic rewards, other times I’m pushing all the way through the season journey ranks. I think this time around the combination of the luster fading from WoW’s new expansion and growing Diablo hype surrounding Blizzcon have made me much more excited to play than usual. I am really hoping for a big announcement this year, either a major new expansion or an entirely new D4 would make my Blizzcon.

As for this season, I think the fact that I arbitrarily chose to level a necromancer instead of a demon hunter is also helping keep me more entertained than usual. I don’t know the class as well so I have to focus a little more, and I don’t have all the builds and gear memorized so getting legendaries feels more exciting because I’m seeing new things. I’m also more motivated to farm good gear because I don’t have a completely ancient, augmented necromancer waiting for me in non-seasonal like I do with DH. The things I get this season might actually not get broken down for parts when the season ends.

I went with the Rathma + Jesseth build since Rathma’s was the free set this season, and it’s quite powerful. Once I finally got all the pieces for the build I rocketed through greater rifts and pushed up to 70 with no problems. Well, I died a lot, but I killed things so fast that I still had no trouble beating the timer. It did take me an unusually long time to get all the key legendaries I needed for my build this season. The two necromancer-only rings were the most elusive, which was frustrating because the circle of buy-one-get-one-free skeletal mages is really crucial. I finally had to resort to some degenerate behavior to force it to drop. Specifically, that ring has a minimum level requirement of only 11, which allows a nice trick to work. Instead of gambling at Kadala at level 70 and having a chance of every ring in the game, I leveled a new baby necromancer to 11 and gambled with her instead. That meant I was drawing from a pool of around 3 possible rings, instead of whole endgame loot table. This technique works best for items that can drop at very low levels, but if you find yourself in the situation where that one thing you need just won’t drop, it might be worth it to try.

Now that I’m all decked out (and have unlocked the possibility of primal ancients) I’m working my way through the season journey. I’ve cleared through Champion and just need one conquest to finish Destroyer. I definitely plan to get through Conqueror, and hopefully drag my buddy Belghast through with me since he still has a few stash tabs to unlock. The conquest choices this season are not some of my favorites. I plan on grabbing avarice first, since with the double bounty box event this season it will be very easy to cheese that one. The next easiest is probably the thrill, since I’ll have lots of paragon levels and high level gems to make GR45 less painful with or without a set. After that the realistic options are either masters of the universe, which requires leveling and farming gear with a second class, or boss mode, which will be very hard with only one or two people.

We’ll see if I keep my momentum this season or fizzle out before finishing. For now I’m still having lots of fun!

August 2018 Gaming Goals

Happy Blaugust everyone! Before I dig into this week’s theme, I wanted to keep up my monthly tradition of evaluating my goals, seeing how badly I failed at meeting them, and then steadfastly creating new ones anyway. Note: I wrote most of these goals before seeing the new quest content in WoW yesterday. I’m not sure if I really want to follow through with them anymore but I’m putting them here anyway because I don’t have any other goals in mind right now.

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Season 14 Still Going Strong

Screenshot061Even though I completed the entire season journey, I am still very engaged in Diablo 3 for the time being. Maybe it has something to do with the joy of double treasure goblins. It’s given me some time to work on achievements. You can see I’ve maxed out a few categories, like the set dungeons and campaign mode. I am sorely lacking in hardcore mode achievements though. I’m considering leveling a hardcore character this season just to knock out a few of the easier ones and bring that 31% up to something more respectable.


blaugustrebornlogo2018In other news, Blaugust is back! I’ll be joining in all the fun and games, with posts here and on my Creative Thing blog. If you are a blogger, or are thinking about becoming one, come join us!

Season 14 Guardian

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I wasn’t that excited about D3 season 14 until I heard about the double treasure goblin event. I’m a sucker for treasure goblins. The season got off to a slow start, but I still haven’t lost interest in it. One reason for that is the free demon hunter set for the season (Marauder’s), which has several fun variant builds that mesh nicely with my playstyle. I started off with a grenade build, then switched over to the multishot version once I started really pushing greater rifts.

Once I made that switch I was enjoying myself so much I decided to make an attempt at full completion of the season. Since several of the conquests and season requirements overlapped it went very quickly. I didn’t take a screenshot when I completed the Guardian chapter, so I took one when I did this GR80 instead. I went back and checked my non-seasonal characters, and 80 is the highest I’ve ever done. I feel pretty proud to have done it with seasonal gear, most of which isn’t ancient yet. I still have not even seen a single primal ancient drop.

Now that I’m done with the season journey I’m not sure how much longer D3 will keep my interest. I’m really happy I was able to do the full season so easily this time though. I believe this is only the second time I have ever completed all the way up through Guardian.

Necromancer Set Mastery

Screenshot058There is no fancy wing reward for mastering the Necromancer set dungeons, which partly led to me ignoring these set dungeons for so long. Like all of the other classes, there are still two banners to get though, one for basic completion and one for mastery. At this point there’s also the principle of the thing. I’ve come this far, I might as well master all of the available dungeons. Plus it is my secret hope that Blizz will continue to add more classes, and eventually add another cosmetic reward for mastering everything. In any case it’s finally done, and here’s how it went:

The free set for Season 11 was Rathma’s, so that’s where I started. The two objectives were to get a total of 500 seconds of cooldown reduction on army of the dead, and to summon 100 skeletal mages. The summoning part was easy, especially with the ring that summons an extra mage every time. The cd reduction was a bit trickier. On my first attempt I didn’t get anywhere close. The second attempt saw me get the objective but run out of time trying to mop up the required kills. I finally mastered it on the third try. The “trick”, which wasn’t really a trick, was to make sure I was using army of the dead immediately when it came off cd so I didn’t waste any cd reduction. I basically got to a big room full of enemies and let my skeletons swing at them until I got the objective done, then summoned tons of mages and mopped up. I waited to summon the mages since when they’re up the damage buff means things die before they contribute much to the cd objective. Not a bad dungeon at all, and I appreciated that both objectives tied to the set, and weren’t gimmicky “don’t get hit by X” type things.

I worked on the Inarius dungeon next. The objectives also both directly tied to the set bonus: rip the bones from 100 enemies and kill 200 enemies affected by a bone armor tornado. This one was incredibly easy. I had the full set but no other specific legendaries, I just used whatever I had laying around in the season. I went in blind to the map and I got the mastery on the first try. Killing enemies affected by bone armor tornado is super easy, it will pretty much happen naturally. Ripping the bones from enemies required a bit more care, mostly because I was killing things before I could group them up. It was definitely easier than Rathma’s dungeon so if you’re having trouble with that one try Inarius’ instead.

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Next up was Trag’oul’s dungeon. This one requires you to spend, and then heal, 1,000% of your life with your abilities. I basically just went at a cautious pace, alternated blood nova and devour, and beat it in one try. The layout of the dungeon has some nooks and crannies for enemies to hide in, but as long as you don’t leave stragglers you should have plenty of time.

After how easy the first three dungeons were, I was pretty nervous that I had saved the hardest for last. In retrospect I should never have worried. It was way harder for some reason for me to actually farm up the full set and bother to try this dungeon than it was to master it. The Pestilence dungeon objectives are to hit enemies with 150 empowered bone spears, and to NOT take 400k damage. The first bit is the easy part, it will pretty much happen with any build that you would want to use in this dungeon. Avoiding damage wasn’t that bad either, I just had to play a bit conservatively and not rush into the middle of swarms and elites. I mastered this dungeon on the first try, with over a minute of time to spare. Easy as bone spear pie.

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Overall the Necromancer set dungeons were some of the easiest in the game. The worse of this lot was definitely Rathma’s. I one-shot all of the others, so I guess they were all equally easy. You can find my thoughts on the other classes’ dungeons in this post from September. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to finish the Necromancer, especially with how easy the last dungeon was to master. It felt a bit anticlimactic after the long journey it took to get to this point. At least now I’m officially finished with set dungeons, at least until they release a new class!